Maddison Brown

Maddi finds perfect role with help from Council and The Disability Trust

Wollongong City Council is partnering with The Disability Trust to provide inclusive employment opportunities which are proving a win-win scenario for everyone involved.

Maddison Brown started working for the Council last year as an Animal Compliance Administration Officer, a dream role for a lifelong animal lover who is a devoted owner of her dog, Archie.

The Disability Trust met with Council officials to find a suitable role for Maddi, who had previously worked in the hospitality industry.

They identified an opportunity within their Animal Compliance Team to contribute to overseeing the registration of dogs and cats, and Maddi jumped at the chance to play a role in updating the state-based register for pets.

Laura King, The Disability Trust’s Employer Inclusion Coordinator, could not be happier with the way Wollongong City Council has welcomed Maddi into their workforce.

“Prior to Maddi’s first day of employment, the Council invited Maddi and myself to a meet and greet with her new team where we had a tour of the workplace and we were introduced to key staff members,” she said.

“Maddi spoke openly about her disability and her learning needs. The team were really excited for Maddi to start. Maddi is thriving in her new role. She has been receiving outstanding feedback from the team and she absolutely loves coming to work.” 

Maddi was thrilled to be given her own workspace, which she has been able to decorate with personal touches.

“It’s been very good. I’ve been settling in really easily. The staff have been wonderful and really helpful showing me all the little things that need to be done, to teach me lots of new things,” she said.

“The colleagues are really lovely and supportive, and it makes me feel like I’m in a safe working environment.

“I like learning about all the different parts of Wollongong and all the little suburbs that I’ve never even heard of before, it’s really interesting. Entering the data of the animals, I really like. It’s very fun.

“I’m interested in learning about the type of breeds that are out there. I didn’t know some of them so I had to look them up and I was like ‘oh, that’s cute’.”

Wollongong City Council General Manager Greg Doyle said it was important to represent the diversity of the people they serve.

“Council’s had a long-term commitment to employing people from diverse communities and that includes people with disability, and this provides us with an opportunity to stretch and have additional support in the organisation, to educate us, create awareness and build our talent pool,” he said.

“Here at Wollongong City Council, it’s a place that values everybody but also values everybody’s experience and everybody’s story, so from our perspective this shouldn’t be any different to any employment development opportunity for any person.

Maddison Brown with staff

“These inclusive approaches benefit us as an employer. If we’re working alongside of people with disability it gives us a better understanding of their experience and it becomes a part of our complete package in delivering services to the community.”

He encouraged other councils to be open to employing more people with disability.

“It’s not a cookie-cutter approach and I think that’s the critical piece. It’s a match-making exercise, just like any recruitment exercise. It’s about identifying talent who want to be here and contribute,” he said.

Sheree Owen, Senior Employment Consultant at The Disability Trust, said Maddi had blossomed since coming through their employment services programs before settling into her role at Council.

“She had previously worked in hospitality and had just felt that it wasn’t for her and was looking more to gain employment in the admin field,” she said.

“Changes in Maddi since starting the position with Wollongong Council have been around her confidence, her big beautiful smile. Maddi’s just a beautiful girl, it’s lovely to see her shine.”

Maddison Brown with staff

Corey Stoneham, Wollongong City Council’s Manager Regulation + Enforcement, described Maddi’s role as a “super important piece of work” for their team.

“I’m really passionate about creating opportunities for people with disability. From a personal point of view, I’ve got four children with disabilities and I’ve seen through my own experience the benefits that a stable, supportive work environment has brought to my kids,” he said.

“I see my role as a senior leader within Council as creating a positive work environment and a high-performing work team. I think this opportunity with Maddi ticks all of those boxes. It’s created such a positive culture within the team and it’s really brought out the best in my staff.

“The Disability Trust supported Council and my team every step of the way in onboarding Maddi.

“They’ve provided a comprehensive work and skills profile of Maddi, helped us identify her learning styles and reasonable adjustments that have needed to be made, they’ve been available on the phone, in person and provided in the office support on a weekly basis.

“It’s been a seamless transition.”

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